STRAIGHT TALK: SONA and Ramaphosa: the night and knight of delusion

Long and well-spun as it was, Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address can be distilled down to a single naked fact: it didn’t deliver the reforms we need to reverse South Africa’s slide into bankruptcy. It didn’t even come close.

“Gradually and then suddenly” was Hemingway’s description of how you go bankrupt. We’re entering the “suddenly” phase, with our credit set to be junked soon after Mboweni delivers his budget speech later this month.

Yet Ramaphosa missed his Rubicon moment to fix the fundamentals.

He failed to administer even the basic CPR required to stabilise the patient. If the DA were in government, this is the shock treatment we would have delivered last night.

  • Solve our energy crisis by committing to 1) break Eskom’s monopoly entirely by opening the energy market to full competition, allowing companies and households to generate and sell electricity unhindered by the state, 2) sell off Eskom’s power stations to pay off its R450 billion debt, 3) free Eskom’s leadership to drive operational efficiencies.
  • Rapidly revive investor confidence by decisively walking away from expropriation without compensation, national health insurance, nationalising the Reserve Bank, and forcing pension funds to invest in state-owned companies.

And Ramaphosa denied our economy the treatment – long prescribed by the DA – that would nurse it to long-term health:

  • Make bold changes to our labour legislation to unleash entrepreneurship and job creation.
  • Stand up to SADTU to end their stranglehold on our basic education system, so that teachers can be properly trained, monitored and incentivised.
  • Do away with cadre deployment and BEE so that the appointments and tenders are on merit and in the best interests of the poor. This would do far more to fix our health system than will NHI.
  • Devolve SAPS powers to the provinces and metros as per international best practice.
  • Commit to reining in the public sector wage bill, by freezing wages for all managers and administrators for three years and reducing the number of such managers earning over a million rand a year by a third.

Though not nearly enough to arrest South Africa’s slide, we welcome the commitment to add additional energy to the grid and to back the DA’s long-fought proposal to allow municipalities to procure their own power from independent producers.

But mostly, we were dished up delusion: a state bank when the post bank is already unable to do its job; a sovereign wealth fund when the government already spends R1000 million more per day than it gets in taxes; a smart city when most municipalities are bankrupt or dysfunctional or both; coding and robotics for kids who can’t read; a capable state with cadre deployment.

It would be funny if it weren’t ruining millions of lives and destroying our future.

Ramaphosa’s problem is that for every major policy decision confronting him, he must choose between his party and his country. Either he goes the route that provides patronage and populist support to his party (NHI, EWC, SADTU etc) or he goes the route that generates inclusive growth for South Africa.

He chooses the ANC over South Africa every time.

It’s time for South Africans to wake up. Cyril is not the knight in shining armour that came to save us. We need to build a new majority for reform in South Africa. The DA will be at the forefront of this charge.

Mantashe is spanner in the works of President’s energy promises

While the Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcements in his State of the Nation (SONA) address last night regarding the energy sector, it is worrying that Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe does not seem to be on board.

Shortly after Ramaphosa announced during SONA that Independent Power Producers will be able to sell electricity to financially viable municipalities, Mantashe contradicted him in media interviews afterward by saying he is unwilling to commit to opening Bid Window 5. This essentially makes the president’s promise an empty one.

A limited number of IPPs have received licences to provide electricity to the grid, following the opening of four and half bid windows so far. The Integrated Resource Plan calls for more renewables to be added on an annual basis, but Mantashe has to open the next bid window, which will be the fifth one.

He has not done so, and judging by his statements last night he does not intend to do so anytime soon.

Mantashe has also continuously delayed the signing of section 34 notices, and has been slow to act on the amendment of schedule 2 of the Electricity Regulation Act.

Every day of delay of these urgent reforms is another day of rolling blackouts and another day of severe damage to the South African economy.

Minister Mantashe needs to come clean on what his immediate steps will be to implement the President’s promises without any further delays. We will hold him to account, as well as calling on the President to act against Mantashe if he continues to be the spanner in the works.

Ramaphosa chooses ANC over SA

This evening, in his 2020 SONA speech, President Ramaphosa was forced into making a choice he has been putting off since assuming the office of the President two years ago. He was forced to choose between saving his country from economic disaster and saving his party from internal war. And tonight he chose the ANC over South Africa.

I am sure this was no easy decision for the President. No one wants to be remembered as the man on whose watch the country’s economy collapsed and millions of people were forced into hardship and suffering. But similarly, he would not want his legacy to be the weakening and possible split of the former liberation movement.

A bold president, however, would have chosen his country every time. Cyril Ramaphosa chose his party.

This SONA speech was his moment. The perfect storm of a stalled economy, rampant unemployment, fast-disappearing investment, shrinking tax revenue and a failed state-owned power utility has meant that this decision could no longer be kicked down the road, as the President has been doing these past two years. We have reached the proverbial D-day for introducing the critical reforms needed to stave off an economic collapse.

President Ramaphosa knows this urgency, and he also knows exactly what needs to be done. Since the start of his term as president – and particularly in recent months – economists, ratings agencies, opposition parties and even his own Finance Minister, Tito Mboweni, have been telling him the same thing: Either you make bold economic reforms – even if this politically difficult – or you sign the death warrant of our economy.

The most urgent of these reforms are:
Breaking Eskom’s monopoly, closing the tap of taxpayer bailouts and keeping government’s hands off pension savings
Relaxing our stifling labour legislation to enable labour-absorbing businesses to succeed.
Reviving investor confidence by immediately walking away from the destructive populist policies of Expropriation Without Compensation and the National Health Insurance.

These were the low-hanging fruits that would have made the big difference. Without these critical interventions, our chances at rescuing our free-falling economy become very slim indeed. There are, however, many other things the President should also have announced tonight, such as doing away with the elite enrichment scam that is BBBEE, fixing basic education by curtailing the power of SADTU, and ensuring the safety of South Africans by devolving SAPS power to the provinces and metros.

But in each of these instances there is an interest within the ruling ANC alliance that was considered more important than the fate of 58 million South Africans.

In the case of Eskom and the electricity crisis, the President made some moves in the right direction, but stopped far short of what was required. Eskom remains the biggest threat to our nation, and the emergency measures announced tonight simply confirm what we all know: Eskom is dead. The ANC’s insistence on trying to resurrect it by raiding the pensions of government employees is madness. There is no “financially sustainable” way to throw a quarter of a trillion Rand of pension savings down a hole that has no bottom.

So while we welcome the announcement of plans to add additional energy to the grid, promises to process applications by commercial and industrial users to produce their own power within 120 days, as well as the decision to back the DA’s long-fought proposal to allow municipalities to procure their own power from independent producers, this is simply not enough.

What the President should have announced tonight was not only the breaking up of the utility into three separate entities – that of generation, transmission and distribution – but also the privatisation of parts of it to settle its debt. He should have announced a rationalisation of its bloated workforce, and he should have vowed to keep his hands of the pension savings of hard-working South Africans.

Instead the president chose to side with its union partners. He chose to protect the monopoly of the failed power utility at the expense of ordinary South Africans, who now have to pay three times for this failure: Once through the tax-funded bailouts, once through hiked electricity tariffs, and once through load-shedding and its resultant effects on the economy.

The president also chose to protect the financial interests of the unions who would stand to lose out if any of their members lost their jobs at the overstaffed Eskom. The irony of protecting the jobs of the same people whose pension savings he is planning to raid to prop up Eskom seems to have been lost on him.

We saw this same party-ahead-of-country decision playing out in virtually every other decision or omission of this SONA speech.

What the country, and particularly the 10.4 million South Africans without work, desperately needed was bold reforms to our draconian labour legislation that would allow businesses to thrive and absorb labour. For instance, there is no logical reason that Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises should have to jump through all the onerous and business-killing labour legislation, other than the Basic Conditions of Employment Act.

The business community have been begging this ANC government to help them solve our massive unemployment crisis, and President Ramaphosa knows exactly what needs to be done to free up our labour regime. But still he chose to side with the economic insiders – those with jobs as opposed to the millions on the outside – and maintain our hostile labour laws.

The same can be said for the economy-killing policies of Expropriation Without Compensation and the National Health Insurance. Both of these are guaranteed to have disastrous consequences for our economy and our people, yet the president and his government remain attracted to them like doomed moths to a flame.

In the case of the NHI, this is a plan we don’t need and certainly can’t afford. The additional tax burden this will require will surely slam a nail in the coffin of our already-dwindling tax revenue, not to mention the inevitable drain on our doctors and nurses as they leave our shores to flee the NHI. Furthermore, nothing in the NHI proposal speaks to the real challenges of healthcare infrastructure failure, skills shortages and the shortage of life-saving medicines.

Similarly, EWC will kill off all future investment in South Africa. A country that can’t guarantee secure property rights cannot possibly convince anyone that their investment will be safe. The moment you start picking and pulling at the thread of property rights, you start to unravel the entire economy. This is precisely what happened to Zimbabwe when they went down this road.

President Ramaphosa knows all of this. He knows that NHI will ruin healthcare in South Africa, both private and public. And he knows that EWC will shut the door on all investment, thereby hastening our runaway unemployment and our economic collapse. But yet he is prepared to persist with both these schemes, not because they are in the interest of the people of this country, but because they offer a cheap and easy tool for his party to win populist support. ANC first, South Africa last.

Tonight was his chance to be bold and courageous – to be the President of South Africa and not just the President of the ANC. To turn to his party and say, “This won’t be comfortable, but there are some things we have to do for the sake of our country.” But when push came to shove, President Ramaphosa simply could not do that.

Many South Africans were shocked back in 2015 when then President Zuma said, “I argued one time with someone who said the country comes first and I said, as much as I understand that, I think my organisation, the ANC, comes first.” It seemed treasonous for a President to unashamedly suggest that the interests of his party should trump those of his country. But Zuma was no aberration in his party. This attitude of “ANC first, South Africa last” is part of the DNA of the ruling party. President Ramaphosa’s decision to save the ANC at the expense of South Africa comes as no surprise.

His choice this evening could not have been simpler: Save your country from near certain economic collapse, or save your party and its alliance partners from a possible split down the middle.

This evening, with the eyes of the world on him and the hopes and expectations of every single South African resting on his shoulders, President Ramaphosa said, “Sorry, but I choose the ANC”.

SA Tourism confirms that President Ramaphosa’s SONA tourism targets are unrealistic 

The Democratic Alliance (DA) can confirm that President Cyril Ramaphosa’s target of 21 million visitors by 2030 in his State of the Nation Address (SONA) was, like most of his promises, a pipe dream. On Tuesday, SA Tourism (SAT) confirmed to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Tourism that the President’s target was unrealistic and unattainable.

SAT instead indicated that a more realistic tourism target would be 16.5 million by 2030. In their presentation, SAT explained that although South Africa is considered a “cheap” destination, we remain an expensive destination compared to other tourist destinations.

While 16.5 million is not a cause for concern, the reality is that President Ramaphosa cannot expect South Africa to welcome high numbers of tourists to our shores when our economy is floundering, crime is on the rise and our aviation industry is being held to ransom by industrial action on the part of unions.

The challenges in the tourism sector are further compounded by the apparent lack of coordination between the Department of Tourism and other relevant Government Departments and entities in effectively implementing the country’s tourism plans of action.

The DA will be submitting Parliamentary questions to enquire whether the Department in conjunction with other relevant Departments have any short and long-term strategies/programmes in place to boost tourism; what the budgets are for those strategies/programmes and whether these strategies/programmes have bourn any fruits.

It is pertinent that the Department in conjunction with the South African Police Services as well as the Departments of Home Affairs, Transport and Arts, Culture and Sports, cooperate and facilitate the implementation of long term tourism initiatives.

It is no secret that rampant crime, xenophobic tensions, and Government’s now overturned decision on unabridged birth certificates, have taken a massive blow on our economy and tourism industry.

The DA will be taking this issue to the National Assembly and will be challenging the Minister to make the required paradigm shifts. Government simply cannot take the tourism industry for granted. In 2018 alone the industry contributed 1.5 million jobs and R425.8 billion to the economy – it is simply too an important industry to fail.

Election 2019: DA ahead of its targets while ANC lags behind

The following statement was delivered by DA Leader, Mmusi Maimane, at a media briefing on the outcomes of the Party’s final Federal Council before the 2019 elections. 

Over the past three days, the Federal Council of the Democratic Alliance (DA) – the party’s highest decision-making body between Federal Congress – convened in Cape Town for its final sitting ahead of the 2019 national and provincial elections to be held on 8 May.

The 2019 Elections

Tomorrow marks 29 years to the day that former President Nelson Mandela was released from prison. Mandela was committed to a vision of a united, reconciled, prosperous and non-racial South Africa for all. The DA continues to champion this vision, and we remain the only party in South Africa capable of delivering on the dream of One South Africa for All.

The choice that lies before South Africans when they cast their votes on 8 May this year is a choice between another 5 years of talk shops, summits, corruption and empty promises from the ANC, or DA’s agenda for immediate change that builds One South Africa for All.

From the outset, Federal Council reaffirmed the party’s 2019 election targets of:

  •         Winning Gauteng;
  •         Winning the Northern Cape;
  •         Retaining the Western Cape; and
  •         Growing our share of votes nationally.

We are more convinced than ever that we will achieve these targets as our own research shows significant weakness in the ANC across the country – particularly in the Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal and the Northern Cape. Our research shows that the ANC is well below its 2014 election results, whereas the DA is polling ahead of our 2014 election results. This is encouraging and shows that South Africans are tired of the status quo and are desperate for immediate change.

Federal Council also reflected on the final registration weekend that was held on 26 & 27 January. The party delivered a strong result, having out-registered our opponents in the Northern Cape, Free State, North West, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and the battleground of Gauteng.

The party has been in full election mode since all structures returned to work on 2 January this year. Since then we’ve put up hundreds of thousands of posters, delivered hundreds of thousands of leaflets, made thousands of phone calls to voters, held hundreds of events, and our activists and public representatives have criss-crossed the country delivering our offer of One South Africa for All.

With 87 days to election day, the party is united, focused, and equipped to deliver our strongest campaign in history.

2019 Manifesto

Federal Council unanimously adopted that party’s manifesto which will officially be launched on 23 February at the Rand Stadium in Johannesburg.

At the manifesto’s core is a compelling offer to build One South Africa for All where there’s a job in every home, our communities and streets are safe, our borders are secure, basis services are delivered to all, and corruption is eliminated. The manifesto is centred around a solid plan with workable solutions to fix our economy, and we believe it will resonate with South Africans who want immediate change in our nation.

On the matter of redress and empowerment, the manifesto is clear: we believe race is a proxy for disadvantage and an accurate reflection of who is still excluded from opportunity. The party has not decided to move away from race-based redress policies, however we unequivocally reject the ANC’s version of redress which operates to enrich and re-enrich the connected elite. Our offer is truly broad-based in that it seeks to break down the wall that exists been the “haves” and the “have nots”. This is how we intend to build One South Africa for All.

State of the Nation Address

Federal Council considered President Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) delivered in Parliament just days ago. The SONA must be viewed within the context we find ourselves in as a nation. Today almost 10 million South Africans do not a job or have given up looking for a job, with around 40% of our households without a single job. Almost 80% of our 10-year-olds can’t read for meaning, and each night 14 million South Africans go to bed hungry. This is the real State of the Nation – a nation of insiders and outsiders.

In this light, the President’s SONA was inadequate and failed to address the real, structural challenges we face. It was an attempt to reassure rather than reform. The President failed to announce any real measures for reform, resorting to his now trademark style of talk-shops, summits, commissions, and meetings which to date have brought about very little tangible change.

SONA demonstrated that for South Africa to work we need a new bus, not a different driver of the same broken bus. President Ramaphosa cannot effect change because he is part of the ANC, and the ANC is past the point of no return. The ANC is incapable of managing the real problems South Africa faces.

If Thursday night’s SONA was the best the ANC has to offer, then South Africans need to take power into their own hands and remove this ANC from government on 8 May 2019.

DA Governments

Federal Council noted and congratulated DA governments on their numerous successes since the beginning of the year.

This month, the Premier of the Western Cape will deliver the 10th State of the Province Address (SOPA) under DA governance. On all objective indicators and measures of success, the DA run Western Cape is the best run province in the country. 10 years of DA governance has seen the province being transformed into a hub of opportunity and job creation. This experience shows that over time, DA governments significantly improve the lives of all residents and increase access to opportunities.

In the past year, over half the jobs created in South Africa came from the Western Cape – a province with one eighth of the country’s population. This is due to an obsessive focus on attracting investment, growing tourism and supporting an agriculture sector hard hit by three years of drought. The Western Cape government got 83% clean audits in the last Auditor General’s report – well ahead of second-placed Gauteng at 52%. Our track record says we don’t tolerate corruption and mismanagement of public funds.

Federal Council also welcomed the passing of the City of Johannesburg’s adjustment budget last month. This adjustment budget goes a long way in speeding up the delivery of services to residents. The adjustment budget includes:

  • R185 million further into road resurfacing and reconstruction
  • R82 million further for electrification of informal settlements
  • R25 million for 5 mobile clinics to service communities
  • R15 million for mobile sub-station to maintain supply while repairing aged sub-stations
  • R18 million to extend the operating hours of 4 further clinics
  • R130 million for electrifying 2 mega housing projects
  • R50 million for upgrading Council Flats and Old Age Homes
  • R20 million for hardware installation of Integrated Intelligent Operations Centre for JMPD CCTV Camera Smart City Network
  • R20 million for upgrading of informal trading stalls
  • R20 million for new street lights
  • R15 million for capacitation of development facilitation unit
  • R400 million investment into broken IT System.

Lastly, Federal Council noted the discovery of large amounts of oil in the Southern Outeniqua basin in the Western Cape. This presents an ideal opportunity for gas to be used to address our current electricity crisis. We propose that Eskom mandates its open cycle gas turbine unit at Atlantis – which has previous used diesel for energy – to now use gas as a source of power to ensure the lights stay on.

Mayoral Handbook

Holding public representatives to account is a priority for the DA, as we prescribe high standards of ethics when it comes to our premiers, MEC, mayors and other elected officials in government.

Federal Council this weekend adopted the “Mayoral Handbook” which outlines rules and regulations for DA representatives in local government. Much like the Western Cape Government’s ministerial handbook, the Mayoral Handbook seeks to regulate government finances and travel, and to eliminate all conflicts of interest.

Elected officials must always do the work of the people, and we believe this handbook will ensure the DA’s high standards for government are upheld at all times.

Conclusion

This year’s election is a referendum on the ANC in government. South Africans must go to the ballot box and vote for the future country we all dream of – and for the party they believe can best deliver on that dream.

For the next 87 days, thousands of DA public representatives, activists and staff members will traverse the country – going door-to-door to deliver our offer of One South Africa for All to millions of voters. We are confident South Africans will choose the DA at the ballot box on 8 May 2019.

Expropriation without compensation still a big part of the ANC’s election campaign

President Ramaphosa seems more determined than ever to rush through land expropriation without compensation for political gain in the upcoming elections.

In his State of the Nation Address (SONA) President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that Deputy President David Mabuza will lead the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Land Reform that will work alongside the Constitutional Review Process. We also note the establishment of the advisory panel of experts that will advise government on its land reform programme. It is due to report back by the end of March 2019.

We have been unambiguously clear about our commitment to redressing the violent history of land dispossession in this country and have always viewed land reform as a social justice imperative which all South African must rally around. Conversely, the DA holds the view that the Constitutional Review Committee’s report that recommends the amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation is flawed.

It is for this reason the DA will challenge the legality of the Constitutional Review process should this procedurally flawed report be passed. We maintain, the Constitution is not a barrier to land reform. The barriers are rather corruption, constrained budgets and a lack of political will by the failing ANC.

The ANC had 24 years to address this injustice and they failed. Changing the Constitution is simply an attempt by the ANC to buy itself time, so that it can continue its looting while citizens of this country languish in abject poverty.

We do not oppose land reform, we oppose the ANC’s attempts to use expropriation as ‘get out of jail free’ card. Their failure to take land reform seriously must not be awarded with another term in office.

SONA2019: Ramaphosa and ANC have no idea how to fight crime

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) once again glossed over the severity of crime and violence in South Africa.

Ramaphosa’s State of No Action is indeed in full swing. Instead of addressing the ANC government’s chronic failure to address crime and violence in the country and presenting the nation with a concrete plan to make our streets and homes safer – Ramaphosa put the onus on communities to combat crime.

While the Democratic Alliance believes in a multi-stakeholder approach to combatting crime, ultimately the responsibility still lies with the South African Police Services (SAPS).

Ramaphosa’s SONA was symbolic of a governing party that is completely estranged from the lived reality of its citizens. SAPS remain under-resourced and under-capacitated. This has resulted in the national ratio of police officers to population increasing from 1:369 in 2016/17 to 1:375 in 2017/18. The ideal ratio should be 1:220.

56 people are murdered in South Africa every day and the number of sexual offences against women jumped by 53% from 2015 to 2017 (31 665 to 70 813).

Now is not the time to celebrate the ANC’s crime ‘summits’. Now is the time to question where and why there is no strategy in place to protect our communities and homes.

These statistics are further proof of the need for policing to be decentralised to ensure that provincial governments have real power in protecting communities and fighting crime. The DA will not stand by idly as the ANC continues to allow these numbers to grow, year by year. We want to protect those where we govern, and ideally, we want the opportunity to protect all South Africans.

Ramaphosa and the failing ANC are incapable of combatting crime. The DA is committed to building One South Africa for All, where our communities are safe and protected.

Unemployed not included in discussions over National Minimum Wage

The DA is concerned that the voices of South Africa’s 9.2 million unemployed are not being heard in the ongoing discussions over national minimum wage.

On 26 March, Minister of Labour, Mildred Oliphant, admitted that government’s bid to ram through the National Minimum Wage Bill (NMWB) before the 1 May deadline set by President Cyril Ramaphosa during this year’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) was unachievable. Significantly, the minister conceded that the adoption of the proposed labour legislation is up to Parliament, not the Executive.

The Portfolio Committee on Labour was recently briefed by the Department on public submissions received for the Labour Relations Amendment Bill, The NMWB Bill and the Basic Conditions of Employment Amendment Bill.

It was during these briefings that the process of public participation was called into question. Indeed, the committee has not heard from the poor, young and unemployed South Africans who will be most significantly impacted by the proposed changes.

The DA is concerned that those who struggle most to gain access to the job market have been ignored during the public participation process and we reiterate our call for the portfolio committee to be allowed the necessary time and opportunity to consider the proposed bill, free from political interference.

Ramaphosa must commit to Payment Plan to pay business suppliers

One of the tests for President Cyril Ramaphosa’s first 100 days in office will be to ensure that more than 100 000 unpaid invoices, worth over R7.7 billion, much of it to small businesses, is paid out as a matter of urgency.
The DA will write to both Minister Lindiwe Zulu and President Ramaphosa asking that they commit to a Small Business Suppliers Payment Plan to clear the arrears currently due to hardworking men and women in the small business sector.
In his oral reply to members of Parliament on the State of the Nation Address (SONA), President Ramaphosa said:
“This is something that I want to see addressed as I visit government departments, because the culture of late payment has gone on for far too long and has caused far too much damage, particularly to emerging black businesses”
Finance Minister, Malusi Gigaba, made a similar commitment during his budget speech when he said government Departments and institutions that do not pay suppliers on time will be charged with financial misconduct.
The DA welcomes these commitments with cautious optimism because previous promises made by government to pay small business owners what is due to them have not been met.
Response to parliamentary questions submitted by the DA indicate that some of the major culprits in the non-payment of business suppliers to government include:
• Transport Department: Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa @ R1.12 billion;
• Public Works Department: Property Management and Trading Entity @ R1.06 billion;
• Water and Sanitation Department: R968 million;
• Transnet @ R788 million and
• Denel @ R688 million
It is not acceptable that, at a time when unemployment is at an all-time high and small businesses are struggling to stay afloat due to an underperforming economy, the government fails to pay these businesses within the 30 day window period.
It will be impossible for the government to achieve its stated aim that 90% of all new jobs be created by small businesses by 2030 if their cash flow is disrupted due to non-payment by departments who send them from pillar to post with contempt.
The DA looks forward to a concrete Small Business Suppliers Payment Plan from the President’s Office that would end the grief that small business owners have endured for years without recourse.

ANC internal battles put the business of the People’s Parliament on hold

The DA is deeply concerned by Parliament’s latest move to shift all Committee meetings planned for tomorrow, 14 February 2018, to later in the afternoon. What is now eminently clear is that the ANC’s internal wrangling around their leadership crisis is affecting the business of Parliament.
It has been widely reported that the ANC has called a special meeting of its parliamentary caucus tomorrow morning. This is evidently the motivation for why Parliament’s House Chairperson, Cedric Frolick, has now rescheduled all of Parliament’s committee meetings. This is simply unacceptable and amounts to nothing less than a conflation of party and state and the gross abuse of Parliament in the interests of a single party.
Parliament has already been forced to reschedule its plenary sessions in light of the ANC’s leadership crisis, which has also led to the postponement of the State of the Nation Address. It must be emphasized that Parliament remains a constitutionally independent branch of government, accountable to the people of South Africa.
This latest move is the clearest indication yet that it is not just Zuma holding South Africa hostage, but the entire ANC, led by Cyril Ramaphosa who cannot resolve this crisis of governance. South Africa simply cannot continue to be held hostage – plenary sessions and committees of Parliament must be allowed to proceed as scheduled.
Most importantly, despite reassurances by Parliament’s Presiding Officers, the DA reiterates its call that the annual Budget address must proceed as scheduled. The gross abuse of Parliament’s processes in favour of the ANC compels us to consistently maintain that we will not tolerate any last-minute attempts to stifle what is arguably the most important budget address in South Africa’s democratic history.